Every competent leader knows the importance of building an effective team. Teamwork is a good thing; in fact, it’s essential. But how does it really work? What makes a winning team? Why do some teams go straight to the top, seeing their vision become reality, while others seem to go nowhere?
These questions don’t have simple answers. How does your work team perform? How is your marriage team, your family team, your church team?
A team is capable of accomplishing things that no individual, no matter how talented, could do alone. To function well, a team must be committed to a common vision and purpose, and it must be willing to work in unity for the improvement of the whole rather than the advancement of any one member.
No one person is greater than the sum of the team.
We are studying the Old Testament book of Nehemiah. Nehemiah had a mission. He knew it was a mandate from the Lord. He had prayed and studied the situation in chapters 1 & 2. But Nehemiah was just one man. He couldn’t rebuild the wall on his own. He had a vision, which he cast in 2:17-18, but he needed a team to accomplish the task.
The task was great. 10 gates, 2 walls and 3 towers were to be rebuilt. It was 2 mile stretch… a wall surrounding about 13 acres of land. For almost 140 years the walls were in ruins. The gates were down... the towers were in rubble...
The situation seemed hopeless.
However, Nehemiah did not loose hope. All throughout the book that bears his name, Nehemiah addressed his people using words like “we” and “us” and developed a team. A "they" mentality does not convey the idea of unity. “They” does not involve any ownership. “We” involves ownership, accountability, and responsibility. Nehemiah organized the people into groups and assigned work in sections that created ownership and made a big task manageable.
Do you live for a cause greater than yourself? Do you lay aside your interests for the greater good of those you love?
"Thank You for the Cross" is such a powerful, gospel-centered song. Often, a full-work week can leave a person feeling drained... let this song be a blessing to you. I pray that its truths would fill you up!
Here are the lyrics::
Thank you for the cross, the mighty cross.
That God himself should die, for such as us.
And everyday we're changed into your image, more and more.
Yes, by the cross, we've truly been transformed.
And we're so amazed, and we give you praise.
That you would save us, at such a cost.
We're so amazed, and we give you praise.
For the power of the cross... or the power of the cross.
Spiritual growth is fundamental to the Christian life. Check out this stirring message from my brother in Christ, Leroy Armstrong. You can grow spiritually! January is typically when many people join gyms and dedicate the new year to growing in their physical fitness. Scripture tells us in 1 Timothy 4:8, "for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come." Lets us this opportunity grow spiritually that we may attain an even greater value.
Happy New Year 2016!
One of the great things about a New Year is the feeling we get that this year can be different - our best days are ahead of us. We can commit to turning things around. However, we can tend to want to do this in our own power. Thankfully, for believers in Christ, we don't have to do it alone! We rely on God for all that has been given us. We seek his face daily. And we depend on him for everything.
One of the most practical ways to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit is to read the Bible. I'm attaching a LINK for you to explore different yearly Bible reading plans. If you start today by following one of these plans, you can make it through the entire Bible by this time next year. Psalm 119:105 reads, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." I sincerely believe that if we press into God through the reading of his word - our lives will never be the same.
What is Christmas really about?
Christmas is about a birthday. Jesus’ Birthday. Instead of singing we wish you a Merry Christmas it would probably be more appropriate to sing Happy Birthday Jesus. Yes, it’s Jesus birthday but He didn’t come to receive gifts, He came to give a gift.
The party gift from Jesus is a priceless gift. You can’t earn it, You can’t buy it, You can’t trade it.
You only have two options: Receive it or Reject it.
At our home, we put our presents under the tree. God the Father put his present on a tree. And Jesus said on that tree – Calvary’s cross - Father forgive them…. That’s why Jesus came… to forgive us and give you and me a 2nd chance. The best thing about Christmas is that it points us to the fact that Easter is on the way! Jesus came to be our Savior.
A Savior? A savior implies I need saving… saving from what? From myself.
— firstmckinney (@firstmckinney) December 25, 2015
In our culture today, sin has been re-defined and excused. At best, it’s been justified… at worst, it’s been celebrated. It’s human nature to think in terms of a less harmful version of sin, as if you could grade sin on its caloric count. Tastes great! Less Filling!
We tend to think… There’s really bad sin (everyone else’s) and then there’s my sin (not so bad).
But if I think this way, it means the rest of my experience with Jesus and the gospel will be "lite" as well. Sin lite means grace lite, forgiveness lite, love lite — how about overall Christianity lite? Less filling; less faith.
When we exchange gifts at Christmas (which is Jesus’ birthday party) it is to be a reminder of the gift of Forgiveness that Jesus gave.
The Greatest gift you can receive is the gift of forgiveness. And the greatest gift you can give is the gift of forgiveness. We choose to forgive those that have wronged us not because they deserve it – they don’t. But we forgive because we’ve been forgiven.
Forgiveness may be the single most difficult act of love.
Forgiveness is a deliberate choice we make to send away the punishment of the one who deserves it.
Receive the gift of Forgiveness this Christmas… Give the gift of Forgiveness this Christmas.
What is the secret to real forgiveness? Remember how much we’ve been forgiven by God. Remember the pain and suffering that Jesus went through to forgive us. Forgiveness has great power to heal and restore relationships.
Most importantly, this begins in our vertical relationship with God. Then, it forms and shapes our horizontal relationships with others. This Christmas, embrace the forgiveness we find in Jesus. Extend this grace to others.
We couldn’t be more excited about this year’s First McKinney’s Christmas Eve Services, on December 24 at 2, 3:30, 5 & 6:30 #ChristmasEve
— firstmckinney (@firstmckinney) December 21, 2015
I'd love for you to join us this Thursday for one of our Christmas Eve services. Come and experience the spirit of this Christmas season as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It doesn't matter if you go to church every Sunday - or you haven't set foot in a church in your entire life. You are welcome and encouraged to join us.
I want to talk about how we can achieve real peace in our lives. What did the angels mean when they proclaimed peace on earth and good will toward men? I want to talk to you today about the peace that is made possible through Jesus and described in the Bible.
The first thing that the Bible talks about with regards to peace is - Peace with God.
1.) Peace with God.
The word used for peace in the Christmas story is the same greek word used for peace in Romans 5:1 “Therefore since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Peace with God comes through a personal relationship with Christ: Confessing sin, repentance and accepting the forgiveness of Sins through the blood of Jesus and making Jesus your Savior and Lord. All who have entered into a personal and saving relationship with Jesus Christ have peace with God. It is my prayer for each of you – that you would have peace with God. He has made it possible, all you have to do is receive it.
Peace is God's gift to us achieved by Christ Jesus on the cross. Before the cross, we were at war with God due to our sin. Now, because God has made peace with us through Jesus, we are able to live out His peace in our lives.
Peace with God allows us to have Peace with others.
2.) Peace with others.
One of our markers in our vision as a church is to become more like Heaven on earth. Racially diverse. Nationally diverse. Generationally diverse. The gospel is communicated more clearly through unity among His people. The church is not the place to hold onto our culture, our preferences. It is the place where all people become equal at the foot of the cross.
3.) Peace of God.
God does not want our inner peace to be dependent upon our circumstances. His peace is not just for the good times, but the trying times too! He gives peace as John 14:27 tells us, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you."
There is a vast difference between the peace of the world and the peace of God. The world’s peace is found in external circumstances that can change without warning. It is a peace that is absolutely out of our control. It is not assured. It’s not stable. But the peace of God gives our hearts an unshakable peace.
In order to know the peace of God, you must depend upon Him - letting go of your control... whether it is in a specific situation or your life as a whole. As we allow God to rule and reign in our hearts and lives, we will know the peace of God that the Scriptures talk about.
Philippians 4:7 tells us, "And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
So, our Christmas challenge is to express His peace and share the message of hope. When the hustle and bustle of Christmas gets you down, remember this, the Greatest Gift has already been given. No exchanges necessary. One size fits all. Rechargeable batteries included. No assembly required. Guaranteed to last for eternity! If you’ve received the free gift of eternal life, peace with God – share it with others. If not, He is offering the free gift of peace today – You can have peace through Jesus.
If you don’t have true peace, I want you to know you can have it today. It is a free gift available to you. God loves you and wants to have a personal love relationship with you. He made that possible over 2,000 years ago, when He sent His son Jesus to earth to be born as a lowly carpenter, to pay the price for your sins through his death. He was buried and three days later rose again. Today, He sits at the right Hand of God the Father as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He desires a relationship with you. It’s possible. It’s available to you. The message I bring to you today is the same as that of the angels over 2,000 years ago, "Glory to God in the highest, Peace on earth, goodwill toward men." Peace is available through Jesus Christ.
As we think about Jesus as the Prince of Peace this week, I'd point you attention to this spectacular video. The clip is a short film giving an update on Don Richardson and his missionary efforts to the Sawi people of Papua New Guinea. This events are made famous by the book Peace Child: An Unforgettable Story of Primitive Jungle Treachery in the 20th Century (a fascinating book!). The details of the video provide an excellent summary if you are not familiar with Peace Child:
The Sawi were headhunters and cannibals when a young couple named Don and Carol Richardson arrived in their village carrying their seven-month-old boy Steve—and a message that would change the tribe forever. The year was 1962, and Steve—and later, three more children—spent their youth among the Sawi, learning the language and embracing the culture in ways that would shape the rest of their lives. Their story was immortalized in the best-selling book Peace Child and a feature film of the same name, inspiring a new generation to take the gospel to the remaining isolated tribes of the earth.
Fifty years later, Steve joins his father, Don, and two brothers, Shannon and Paul, to visit the Sawi village where they grew up. What is the state of the church they planted among the Sawi? Are the friends they played with still alive? Will anyone remember the mark their family left on the tribe? Journey with Steve as he travels to the swamps of Papua, Indonesia, to introduce you to the Sawi, and explore the impact of the gospel among a previously unreached people group.
I'd highly recommend you watching this video - especially as we think about how Jesus is the "peace child" for the whole world! Understanding this story will give new depths and meaning to that term.
What better way to call for peace on earth is there than to pray the Lord's Prayer? It's such a beautiful and majestic prayer. Take a few minutes out of your day and watch this stunning new video. It's a prayer based on the Lord's prayer, and it shows some breathtaking images. This week, we will look at the peace Jesus brings. We all need this peace - and especially during the Christmas season when emotions and senses can be heightened. This peace only comes through dependance on Him. And what better way to show your dependance than through prayer?